ISO: New Mercy. Wore out the old one

IMG_1083Some days. There are just some days, some weeks, some months.   You know the ones. Where everything is just hard and even the simple stuff doesn’t come out so easy any more you’re just plain tired of the hardness of it all. When you need a little bit of slack but there isn’t any slack to be had and you thank your lucky stars that you don’t actually believe in karma because you think you must have done something pretty terrible to deserve all of this frustration and all of this hardness and all of this stuff.

And maybe it’s nothing really terrible but lots of little things that add up to one great big thing, like when the cat throws up on your freshly cleaned bed and the crumbs get spilled and stomped and spread in the freshly cleaned carpet. And maybe you step on a Lego and you drop the eggs that were going to be dinner and you’re just too tired to think of something else and now your patience is gone and the kids are in need of quite a bit of it and you just want the day to be done but there’s a long way to go and it’s just hard and you’re just that tired of it all.

And Facebook tells you you’re not good enough and you just don’t have enough andmercies you don’t do enough. You didn’t do the things with your kids or buy them that toy or go to that place that a good parent would and your house isn’t fancy it’s just a home with a roof and the yard isn’t mowed because the mower is old and the garden’s not done and the weeds are growing strong and fast and big where the vegetables should be and you feel like you’re less because you just didn’t and can’t and sometimes, you just won’t. And the worst is the guilt because you snapped at your kids and you snapped over the bills and you just know you’re supposed to be thankful and grateful for this blessed life that you have but none of it feels so blessed in this moment. And you want to crawl in your bed and pull the covers up high but you can’t because of the cat and the throw-up and so you just want to throw in the towel on this day and it’s not even noon and you’re already done.

And it’s ok.

IMG_0926It’s ok if you feel like the mercy ran out and the patience ran out and the peace ran out and the everything else that you’re supposed to do and supposed to be is gone for the moment. It’s just a moment. And you don’t need to feel guilt and you don’t need to feel bad and you don’t need to worry about not being enough. And Facebook is wrong, flat dead wrong because God is enough and His love is enough and everyday there is mercy, new mercy, and it’s all just enough. God’s love is enough and that means you’re enough and you’ve done enough and you will be enough. So just hit the pause for a sec and take one big deep breath and let it all out and remember that mercy, God’s mercy is enough and it never runs out and it’s new every day and you don’t have to fight to get it or have it. He gives it to you with all of His love and that makes you enough for today. He’s enough.

Lamentations 3:22-23 New Living Translation (NLT)

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.

 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.

10 things you (and I) need to quit doing so we can stop the busy

Oh, yeah. We want to stop the busy. We all want to stop the busy. We have quite the love-hate relationship with the IMG_4025busy. But there’s so much to do to stop the busy, we just don’t know where to start. So here it is – the list – the starter list- of things that you and I need to quit doing so we can stop the busy. Are you ready to stop the busy? Then just stop:

10. Stuff hoarding. Oh, yeah, we need to cut the clutter. And if you have battery powered toys you know exactly how this happens. The most favorite Buzz Lightyear toy needs a new battery immediately before eternal, heart wrenching, small child despair sets in. Of course, since it’s a child’s toy, you have to use a screwdriver to open the battery compartment in order to change the batteries. No big deal, right? Well, the screw driver you keep handy in the house for just such a purpose is not where it’s supposed to be. So you start looking. You dig through the junk drawer, looking for that pesky screwdriver. You find some legos, those are easy to put away. You dig through rubber bands, and old stamps, and I don’t know what the heck that thing is to save my life, and some half-chewed book marks, a stick of gum, and a pile of other things that you’re not really sure what to do with. All you know is that there is no screwdriver to be found. So you pile the stuff back in so that you can spend 20 minutes digging through it the next time you need something, and head to the garage. Same scenario, this time, with bigger stuff. Finally, you find the aforementioned screwdriver in the bottom of a box of really old recycling and head back to the house to open up Buzz’s battery compartment. Oh, it needs C batteries. Where are those pesky C batteries? And the search begins again. What should have been a 5 minute chore took an hour because, well, there was just too much stuff in the way. Stuff wastes time. Cut the clutter. Have less stuff. Have more time. Be ruthless. It will stop the busy.

IMG_06569. Washing stuff twice. This. This is the thing that kills me. You know, when the kids rifle through their drawers, only to wear something for 5 minutes and then throw it in the laundry. Perfectly clean practically unworn clothes tossed haphazardly into the dirty hamper. And then it’s heaped in with sweaty sweatshirts and smelly pants and that comforter that is, for some ridiculous and unknown reason, smeared with an entire jar full of peanut butter and jelly. And so we wash the same clothes again, And again. And again. I suppose less choices would lead to less dirty clothes…. whatever the solution, one must be found because we must stop the busy.

8. Wasting food. Toddlers are the ultimate food wasters. Take a bite, run away from the table. Take a bite, dump the food on the floor. Take a bite, pour water in it. Finally, take a bit off of the floor. Spit it out. Because food on the floor is yucky. Then there are the grownup variety of food wasters, too – how many science experiments are growing in your refrigerator at any given time? I’d say there are about 7 in mine. Why? Because the fridge is stuffed full to the brim and I can’t find what I want so I don’t serve the leftovers that I planned to have for dinner today. Instead, I cook something new, or worse, hit the drive through –  losing time and money and everything else that’s still in the fridge turns green and I’m afraid to look at it so I let it be. That was food?

7. Paying bills late. Because late fees cost us money! See number 6.

6. Wasting money. Because, like it or not, sometimes time is money. If you waste your money, you’ll need to make more money. The more time you have to spend on making more money, the busier you are. But I thought you really wanted to stop the busy?

5. Multi-tasking. When you try to do too many things at once, you don’t do them well. Slow down and just take oneIMG_5692 thing at a time. Because otherwise, I burn the toast, wrinkle the clothes, trip on the cat, spill the coffee, slip on the floor and bruise my pride and my backside, so of course then I forget the errand I was supposed to run, and somehow feel like I am soooo busy and not really getting anything done.

4. Dealing with stuff twice. As soon as you get the mail, throw the junk away. When you get a receipt, ditch or file it, don’t save it for later. Don’t go through the kids backpacks until your ready to do the backpacks. Otherwise, papers just float around the house, get lost, or chewed on by the dog. Or a small child. Wait until you’re ready to manage it all, start to finish. If you use something, put it away. If you spill, clean it up. If you start it, complete it. Then you can have it be finished and forget it, rather than meandering around with it in your brain where other, much more important stuff should be residing. Like stuff that will help you pay your bills on time so you can be less busy.

3. Complaining. Don’t complain! It will make difficult stuff even worse when you ruminate on it. Instead, face it head on, as cheerfully as possible. Wasting time being miserable is just wasting time.

2. Living on Facebook. Facebook is a great tool, but somehow this tool creeps in and starts to run our lives for us. Turn it off. Delete it from your phone. Log out. Do whatever you have to do to keep yourself from constantly checking it. Set aside a few minutes specifically for enjoying Facebook, but only if that’s true – if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. Facebook is known to cause depression, and if it’s hurting you in this way, or its sucking up too much of your precious time, just put it away.

1. Checking your phone. How many precious seconds do we waste checking our phones? Some studies say that the average American adult checks their smart phone over 200 times per day. If that only happens during the 16 hours you’re supposed to be awake, that’s about 12 or so times per hour. That’s once every 5 minutes. Your phone is a more frequent interruption than your kids! Turn off the notifications and limit the time you spend checking them. Chances are, you’re doing it out of habit and not because you really need or want to. You’ll feel less scattered and more able to concentrate and you’ll be far more productive by limiting yourself. Better productivity means you’re wasting less time and you’re accomplishing more – which adds up to less busy!IMG_0827 - Copy

Do you really want to stop the busy? Stop doing these things! And stop doing other things that cause us to be busy for no good reason. Just stop the busy.

Which one will you start stopping today?


Slow Down and Sleep

It took me a week, an over-filled, sweaty, ripe, grimey, headachey week to find 42 minutes to plop myself on my plumped up sofa, prop my feet on the coffee table, and zone out for an episode of Bones on my laptop. Yes, it took a good 7 days to find that quality time to spend with Hulu. And do you know what happened?

I promptly fell asleep.

What’s going on here? Am I that old? I don’t even have enough energy to relax! Something is very wrong. How can I discover God’s hand in my life – how can I gaze in awe at Him – if I can’t stay awake? If I am so busy that I fall asleep the moment I sit down, then I need to make a change. When people talk about priorities, they usually mean putting family first, or making time to spend with God, or date nights with their spouse. But what about sleep? Where does rest fit in? Somewhere, I read that Rick Warren commented on this when he said that sometimes, the most spiritual thing that we can do is to take a nap.  Our human bodies need rest, and I am no exception. The problem is, how?

My life is so full that I get in the bad habit of thinking that the only thing that can give anymore is sleep. And with 6 small children in my house, uninterrupted sleep is impossible to find when babies need fed in the early morning hours, nightmares need soothed, and cups of water need to be dispersed. With all this nighttime activity, I need to spend more quality time with my pillow as well as weed out some of those energy sappers – scrolling Facebook on my phone is one of them. Oh, I’m not anti-facebook at all, it’s a great tool. But filling every second of each day with mindless scrolling and random information doesn’t give our brains the needed time to process the days events and emotions, and it distracts us from thinking about God. I’m not going to say I won’t scroll at all – but maybe I can give those spare minutes a good trim? To let my mind wander over God’s gifts rather than Facebook memes and status updates.

So there are 2 steps that I’m taking this week towards finding more awe and wonder in my life. The first is to keep tracking my sleep with my Fitbit, and keep trying to add a few minutes to my night time by doing little things like shortening my shower, enlisting the kids’ help in cleaning up toys, and heading to bed a few minutes sooner. 6 hours of sleeping is my goal, and last night I didn’t even clock 4 1/2. I can’t keep this up.

The second step I’m taking this week is to cut down on cell phone app usage, including Facebook. Whenever I have a few seconds to wait, such as in the parent pickup line, or while waiting for the spaghetti to cook, I want to pause, and think about God first before I pull up my favorite apps or check up on my FB friends. Less information for my brain to sort through means less brain power being used, and more energy being reserved for things that matter all the more.

2 small changes. Let’s hope for some big rewards. What lifestyle tweeks are you making this week? What small things can you prioritize to make big changes in your life?

Pray for me and I’ll pray for you as we seek out the awe and wonder of God.